Behind that door are three men in a room...
Behind that door are three men in a room...

What Cuomo's Donors Want For All That Campaign Cash

Illustration for article titled What Cuomos Donors Want For All That Campaign Cash

It's said that there are two types of donors to political campaigns, the aspirational and the transactional. Albany, especially for statewide candidates, is the realm of strictly transactional donors. And our governor, a man who likes to rail against New York's laughably lax campaign finance laws while pushing the fundraising envelope as far as he can, raised a staggering $47 million for his re-election campaign.


5414 contributors donated to Cuomo's campaign from late 2010 until the end of last month. (New York is a state of roughly 19 and half million people) Just over half of that $47 million came just 341 individuals, all of whom donated $40,000 or more a piece. That's...insane.

And those big money donors aren't writing all those big checks for the hell of it. They want specific goodies in return and, given that this is Albany we're talking about, they will almost certainly collect.


We've talked some about what exactly all those donors want in exchange for all that money. Liz Benjamin drills down a little deeper about they want in 2015.


First up is Big (NYC) Real Estate:

And of Cuomo's top 50 donors, just over half (26) have ties to the real estate and construction industries.

Of the governor's top 10 donors, all of whom gave $200,000 or more, seven are connected, either directly or indirectly, to real estate.

It's going to be a big year in Albany for the real estate sector. A number of significant issues are on the table, starting with New York City's rent laws, which are scheduled to expire next June.


Litwin has given the governor $1 million, far more than the combined general election and primary limit of $60,800 for individuals.

He, like many in the real estate sector, have benefitted from the so-called L.L.C. loophole, which allows an individual to use any limited liability companies he or she controls to give the maximum amount many times over.


What does Big Real Estate want? They want those expiring rent control laws weakened as much as possible, if not done away with all together. And here's the bad news for you and your Brooklyn apartment, they're not going to get everything, but they are going to get a lot. Upstate and suburban Republicans a) don't care about your rent going up and b) owe their big wins last month in large part to mountains of campaign cash from, among others, Big Real Estate.

They'll have more trouble in the Assembly, but Cuomo and the senate GOP will be able to muscle at least some weakening of the rent control laws through next summer. This is good news for super wealthy real estate interests. If you live in NYC, it is decidedly less good news for you.


The Charter School Billionaires:

Some in the charter community want to weaken New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's power over charter schools when the debate over mayoral control (which sunsets this June) takes place in Albany.

De Blasio raised campaign cash for the Democrats in their failed effort to take back the Senate majority, which did not endear him to the Republicans. The G.O.P. used the liberal mayor as a wedge issue in top races, warning voters against empowering his "far left" and "radical" agenda.

Others would like to see the state increase funding for charters and bump up the charter cap, though the current cap hasn't yet been reached, or eliminate it altogether.


This one is simple. Many of the billionaire hedge fund guys behind the very well financed New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany are also big Cuomo donors. They want lots and lots of charter schools and the money that comes with them.


And they're going to get them.


The Unions (that backed Cuomo):

NYSUT, CSEA and PEF are probably screwed in the coming year. They won't lose every fight, but they are likely to lose most of them.


The unions that backed Cuomo, however, could be looking at a much brighter 2015. The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the Teamsters and IBEW are looking at that fat stack of cash from Wall Street settlements and seeing brighter days ahead. It's likely that a significant portion of that $5.1 billion and change is going to be spent on infrastructure projects both big and small. That's really good news for them. It's also sound policy, something Albany isn't exactly known for.


They are also looking at the re-authorization of the so-called "design-build" process. It's a big concern for them and they want to be at the table when this issue comes up early in the next legislative session.

Big Media:

Cablevision is a big Cuomo donor. The Dolans are big Cuomo donors. They desperately want to preserve one of the most obscene tax breaks in the entire state, a property tax exemption for Madison Square Garden. This exemption will cost New York City $54 million dollars next year.


It's an outrageous and costly arrangement that no one but the Dolans like. Calls to end this monstrosity bubble up every few years or so. Cablevision gives generously to make sure the momentum for change never amounts to anything.

Will it continue to work? Probably.

They also have an eye on that proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger. Being big spenders means that their phone calls on such concerns get returned.


All of this is really just scratching the surface and these are just the largest, most visible transactions. There's plenty more happening, deals being made, for far less money and much lower stakes all over Albany.


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(image via NY Post)

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